Irid and Eros (3.5e Environment)
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Some cities are born to facilitate some aim, to serve a growing population or to nurture the ego of a ruler. Others grow naturally due to any number of reasons: good location, plentiful natural resources, religious significance and so on. Irid and Eros, often called the Twin Cities, are an example of the latter.
The delta of the river Kwazir is a fertile area, especially compared to the aridness of the near-desert region surrounding it. Inhabitations probably sprung up on the banks of the lazy river as soon as the human population spread into the east, partially mixing with and partially subjugating the dunners who lived there before them. It didn't take long for two great cities, the northern Irid and the western Eros, to stand out from the rest of the haphazard inhabitation.
The two cities began life as separate entities, with Irid mostly on the inland northern bank of the river and Eros hugging the coastline. When the infrastructure of the two cities began to grow - bridges spanning the river and connecting the delta's islands, for example - they started growing into a single larger metropolis. Nowadays, the two are effectively inseparable, with the names Irid and Eros only signifying two parts of a single city. The people of the Twin Cities, however, are very adamant about the distinction, especially those on the Irid side.
When Dharuum was established in the north by Blessed Ur, the first of the eastern Sultans, the self-proclaimed capital sent centaur messengers to Irid and Eros to declare their superiority and demand tribute. The Shah of the Twin Cities happily obliged: a capital thousands of miles away could do little to sway the politics of Irid and Eros, and would even be dependent on the trade of the coastal city. Dharuum might be the governing capital of the east, but Irid and Eros are definitely its heart.
Inhabitants & Rulers
Due to the city's proximity to Ghaer, dunners were the first to live on the banks of Kwazir. They never populated the riverbanks to a great extend, since the early dunners still preferred forests and trees to sea and sand. Thus, when the humans came from the west, they found it easy to establish their cities. The dunner tribes in the area were swallowed up by the encroaching civilization.
The densely-inhabited center of Irid and Eros houses some 15,000 adults of various races plus their children, with some 5,000 more living in nearby settlements along the coastline and the river. The Irid side of the city is more loosely built and inhabited, while the Eros side is packed with houses and people. The islands in between only have a few permanent residences.
Irid and Eros are extremely multicultural. Humans make up some 40% of city populace, with dunners accounting for 25%, goblins for another 25% and goliaths around 10%. Dwarves are the only race not to have too many members in the city. Not only do the Twin Cities have a wide variety of races, but cultures as well: naval trade means that the city's populated by folk from Fort Brunid, Brimhaven, Remoras, Tull, and the many smaller coastal cities of the east, as well as minor caravan trade from Dharuum.
As a coastal city, many inhabitants work in seafaring trades. The poorer folk (many of whom are dunners) work as crafters, fishermen, laborers and sailors, while the richer folk (to which most of Irid and Eros goblins belong to) work as artisans, astronomers, gemcutters, merchants and traders, or just don't work at all if they're nobles. Irid and Eros get most of their food from farms along Kwazir, with the city itself not producing all that much.
The Twin Cities are ruled by the Shah, Surimmin bin Surmathin, a hereditary autocrat. He is considered to be a just, if incredibly harsh ruler, and takes an active interest in making the city better and growing its affluence. This is in stark comparison to the despot leaders before him, who mostly grew fat and lazy on the delights the city could offer.
Irid and Eros are, as the name suggests, a combination of two cities. While growing infrastructure has lessened the obviousness of this division, it still exists. The two cities are built onto the slopes that surround the river Kwazir and along the coastline for quite a while. The center of the city surrounds the delta, but inhabitation can be found for miles along the river and the coastline.
Irid (which translates to Town of Great Vision) lies on the northern side of Kwazir, and is the richer of the two cities. It's considered an academical area, with mastery in landborne trade. The houses and roads are well-maintained, many important structures lay on this side of the river, and the city plan is spacious and clear. Most of the humans and goblins of the region live in Irid. Important locales in Irid include palace of the Mielize, the Hippodrome and of course the Observatory of Irid.
Eros, on the southern side of Kwazir, is the poorer and wilder of the two. The buildings near the coastline are little more than slums, with the docks being the most dangerous area. The quality of architecture gets better the higher on the slopes you go, as well as around important buildings. The dunners and goliaths of the Twin Cities live here for the most part, along with a sizeable minority of humans. Racial tension is common. Important locales in Eros include the Round Palace, the Mausoleum and Von Corander's Seafood and Somesuch.
The Kwazir delta houses many large islands, and the citizens of Irid and Eros have made good use of them. The islands are called (from west to east) Dareo, Qamar, Il-Wodic, northern Il-Polic and southern Il-Sudic; the last three are named after the Eight Winds. Many high bridges span the river from island to island; indeed, Irid and Eros aren't directly connected by a bridge at all, with access possible only through the islands. The islands are the most luxurious area in the city, with inhabitation consisting of a few glorious mansions and palaces. The rest is reserved for markets. Important locales on the delta islands are the East Trading Company Warehouse, Bin Saer Monastery and Qamar Spice Market.
Each of the twin cities of Irid and Eros are nominally dedicated to a single titan-god: Irid with its observatory is devoted to the titan Luni, since her night is the best time to observe the stars. Eros with its docks is is devoted to the titan Auri, for it is in his day that ships sail.
In truth, few in the city devote much of their time to the gods. Trade is a secular field: what practical benefit can the gods give to a man peddling spice? Ahti is unsurprisingly venerated among the sailors, although prayers to him are more to keep him away than to summon him. The same goes for Auri: the coastal city is not quite as troubled by sun as the rest of the east, but they nonetheless know the scorching hate of the high noon sun.
Threats & Strife
Unbeknownst to almost everyone in the city, the delta of Kwazir is a location more important than can be guessed. It is a key point in the plan of the Mothers Three, and thus the servants of the Mothers are many among the rich and poor of the city alike. Ulermo Spiderborn is among their chief agents, dwelling in an abandoned palace along the northern coastline. Horrible things lurk beneath that palace's floorboards.
Racial tension has always been a problem in the cities, especially on the Eros side. This goes back to the inhabitation of the area, where humans subsumed the dunners of the area mercilessly. Many gangs, based on racial ideology, fight it out on the streets. The Shah threatens capital punishment on the members of such gangs, but dunners and goliaths dismiss this as just another human act of aggression.
A - The Round Palace
|Luxury the likes of which few ever get to witness.|
Shah Surimmin bin Surmathin lives in the Round Palace, a gargantuan building with a massive gilded dome and several beautiful minarets jutting from the sides. It is located on the Eros side of town. While this may seem surprising, considering Irid is traditionally the rich, prestigious area, the palace does have a calming effect on its surroundings. Furthermore, the palace lies close to the Mausoleum, allowing easy access.
No other building comes even close to the size and pomposity of the Round Palace. The walls are alabaster with intricate mosaics of semi-precious stone. The stone floors of the palace are warmed with trapped spirits of the underworld (the court wizards of the Shah are masters of their trade) and covered with masterwork carpets.
B - The Mausoleum
Death is an accepted part of life in the east, perhaps owing to the harsh nature of the lands. Burial rites are varied and complicated, with a given city, village, tribe or even family having their own customs. Thus, the Mausoleum was established: a building that serves a double function as an academy for young priests and morticians and as a funerary home.
In start contrast to both the the palaces of Irid and the harsh buildings of Eros surrounding it, the Mausoleum is a simple, clear-cut building. It's partially built into the cliff wall, a sandstone rectangle with another one on top of it, with a stairway leading to the upper part. There are no windows, only small horizontal vents, and only three doorways: two on the ground floor and one on the second. There are no locks - none are needed.
Those inhumed at the Mausoleum receive the exact burial rites their faith or tradition dictates. The hills to the south of the Mausoleum are filled with beautiful, fragrant wildflowers: the last gift of the buried. Below the building lay complexes of catacombs and tombs after the fashion of a thousand different creeds. There, in the depths, the carriomancers practice their trade with those who sold their bodies to the Mausoleum to buy with their death a better life for those who live.
C - East Trading Company Warehouse
East Trading Company is a powerful organization that, since its inception some five years ago, has usurped most of the western trade of jewels and other valuables, including art, carpets and fine food and drink. The Company makes a massive profit by producing quality wares with minimal expenses (often through slavery - it's illegal in Irid and Eros, but not in most of the east) and selling them at a ridiculous price in the west.
The warehouse is one of their main bases of operation. Like all sizable enterprises in the Twin Cities, the warehouse uses carriomancer-produced zombie labor. The building itself is a drab clay building with windows that are always shuttered and doors that open only for goods on the move. The inside is a proper maze.
D - Palace of the Mielize
Since the distances between settlements in the east are vast, and the sun and moon each bear their own hazards, only members of a race that possesses both speed and endurance can work as messengers. The centaur offspring of Mieli are both, and it is only through their efforts that information passes in the east as fast as it does. Chief among them is Khorbira bin Mielize, the eldest female descendant of the Mielize line of centaurs. Unlike other eastern inhabitants, they don't name themselves by their fathers, but rather as bin Mielize (daughter of Mieli).
Khorbira doesn't transport messages herself, but her family organizes the messenger services that cover all of the eastern kingdoms. This gives her word sway, and even the Shah of the Twin Cities has to bear a touch of respect for her. She lives in a customized palace, well-suited to her equine nature: massive, wide doors, furniture designed for a centaur's size, beds of carpets and cushions... Just don't call it a stable, or you're likely to face death by hooves.
E - Hippodrome
Horses are valued in the east more than in the west, both for their inherent value as beasts of burden and companions and due to their relation to the respected centaurs. Horse-racing is a common pastime in eastern cities, and the Hippodrome of Irid is often called the "horse capital". It is a massive stadium, fit for horse and chariot racing. The track itself is surrounded by rows of ascending stone benches, with the last few benches covered by a tall balcony. On certain religious occasions, centaurs will race at the Hippodrome as well.
Gambling is nominally forbidden in the Twin Cities, punishable by death, but since the highborn are avid racing gamblers, the gambling happening at the Hippodrome is largely ignored. This has made the farthest few benches of the seating a nest of gamblers, who practice a wide variety of games other than betting on horse racing as well.
F - Bin Saer Monastery
Bin Saer stands for "son (or daughter) of the Island", referring to the entirety of the continent Pansaer, and outlines the purposes of the monastery. Those who come to the monastery devote their life to meditating on the universe, life on the continent, the nature of the gods and other such matters. They also train their physical bodies to perfection, so they can better concentrate on the nonphysical.
Bin Saer Monastery is a tall, square building rising on a delta island called Dareo, which is accessible only by boat. The roof of the monastery houses a series of bells, from those as tall as a man to those as small as a hummingbird. Their melodious ringing fills the city at sunrise, midday and sunset. Some of those who train at the Monastery become wandering monks, delivering their teachings to far-off lands - and furthering the agenda of the monastery's leaders.
G - Qamar Spice Market
|So many scents, so many colors.|
The odors of the delta island of Qamar are said to be as many as there are grains of sand in the Red Wastes. At once sickly-sweet, nostril-burning, strong, faint, delicious, disgusting - Qamar Spice Market has it all. The many spices sold also means it's a mecca of delicacies both sweet and savory.
Although it's called the spice market after its most notable merchandise, all kinds of things are peddled at Qamar: animals, art objects, jewelry, magical curiosities, potions and salves, as well as pretty much anything you can think of. Even carriomantic servants are sold at a few well-covered tents.
H - Von Corander's Seafood and Somesuch
Morgir von Corander, a dwarven seafood gourmand from Brimhaven, is the owner of sixteen failed seafood-related businesses and one successful one. His only success, which he only reached after leaving his native Brimhaven, is Von Corander's Seafood and Somesuch, a manufacturing plant of all kinds of sea-based goods and wares situated on the waterfront of Eros.
Morgir has a love of seafood without an equal. It was only when he discovered that not everyone enjoys it quite as much as he does that he understood to expand his horizons. Seafood and Somesuch produces and sells everything related to seafood: food like fish, molluscs, crustaceans, seaweeds, sea salt; tools like nets, harpoons, fishing rods, hooks, ships; and valuables like pearls, aquarium pets, even seafloor artifacts. They're also the biggest producer of ice in the east, a feat accomplished with a large staff of hired wizards.
I - Observatory of Irid
The part of town called Irid gets its name ("Town of Great Vision") from the Observatory that looms over the northern slopes. While the basis of the Twin Cities was set in late Journeying Years, they were called by various names through the years, until Irid was settled on in 2935, when the observatory was established by the then-current Shah.
The observatory is more than just an astronomer's delight: it serves as an academy and a place of study. Anyone with gold can have their child taught by someone in the observatory, and if you throw enough money at the problem you might even get a bright mind to tutor your offspring. A wizardly academy, subservient to the one in the Spire, functions in the observatory as well. This explains the relative ubiquity of wizards (albeit some less-than-stellarly-trained ones) in Irid and Eros.
J - Guard Minaret
The city guard of the Twin Cities is more than a martial force: it employs war wizards, a tradition from the days of the Troubled Years. The guard operates from gorgeous turquoise minaret towers spread along the waterline on both sides of Kwazir. When trouble arises, a vocally-trained guardsman called a songbird will call out a rhythmical coded message. This will be heard in the other guard minarets. Thus the city guard can be roused in minutes.
Since the arid regions of the east are quite inhabitable, the surroundings of Irid and Eros are only inhabited along the coastline and the inland banks of Kwazir. This gives the surroundings of the city a unique "sideways T" appearance. Inland Kwazir is packed with farms, while the coastline is made up of fishing communities - these two provide Irid and Eros, as well as other cities in the area, with the required comestibles.
Skills & Professionals
|The Twin Cities house|
hundreds of traders,
and twice that number
Irid and Eros is the greatest trade hub of the east, so it should come as no surprise that the city caters to the wildest needs when it comes to goods and equipment. What's more, the Irid side of town houses a throng of gifted professionals and scholars - and the Eros side has professionals all its own - who are willing to impart their knowledge for a small price. Smart purveyors can find rarer gear still.
All weapons, armor, shields and adventuring gear are available in masterwork quality. Most of these are kept in stock, but to obtain a few rarities (such as exotic weapons), one may have to mention it to the merchant beforehand.
- Appraise (up to DC 30)
- Craft (any that seem sensible; up to DC 25)
- Decipher Script (up to DC 30)
- Forgery (up to DC 25)
- Handle Animal (up to DC 20)
- Heal (up to DC 20)
- Knowledge (arcana, the planes up to DC 30; architecture and engineering, geography, nature up to DC 20; history, local, nobility and royalty up to DC 25)
- Perform (up to DC 25)
- Profession (any that seem sensible; up to DC 25)
- Spellcraft (up to DC 30)
Irid houses gifted scholars and astronomers, while laborers of all kinds can be found in Eros. Buying a skill check costs DC x 5 gp (rounded down) or 50 gp, whichever is higher. Skills that cannot be used untrained cost twice this amount. Skills that have to do with astronomy, magic, mapmaking or trade can be found for +5 DC higher. These skills can be "bought" from Irid and Eros, although for check DCs over 19, a Gather Information check of the same DC is required to locate a proper professional.
- Simple Weapons: all.
- Martial Weapons: all, except light hammer, light pick, heavy pick, rapier, warhammer, battle ram, and spiked armor/shield.
- Exotic Weapons: bastard sword, bolas, net, and harpoon.
While Irid and Eros are far from warlike, the trade of weaponry is nonetheless lucrative and thus common. Weapons are available in both Medium and Small sizes at least on the Eros part of town, thanks to the many dunners who live there.
- Light Armor: all.
- Medium Armor: hide, and chainmail.
- Heavy Armor: splint mail, and banded mail.
- Shields: buckler, and light and heavy wooden shield.
- Extras: locked gauntlet.
Only Medium-sized armor is sold as is - other sizes have to be forged especially for the customer. The dunner inhabitants of the Twin Cities can rarely afford armor. Most inhabitants of Irid and Eros prefer light armor, as drowning in the waters of Kwazir would be a nasty way to die.
Goods and Services
- Adventuring Gear: all.
- Special Substances and Items: all, except holy water.
- Tools and Skill Kits: all.
- Clothing: all, except cold weather outfit.
- Food, Drink and Lodging: all.
- Mounts and Related Gear: all, except riding dog, war pony, and military saddles.
- Transport: all, except sled.
- Spellcasting and Services: untrained and trained hireling, messenger, and spells of 5th level and lower.
A DC 15 Gather Information check makes the following items and services available:
- Light hammer, light pick, heavy pick, warhammer, bastard sword, whip, net, battle ram, harpoon, breastplate, light and heavy steel shield, and spells of 6th level.
A DC 25 Gather Information check makes the following items and services available:
- Barbed whip, half-plate, holy water, giant spider mounts, grenadier flasks of acid and alchemist's fire, and spells of 7th level.
Examples of Townsfolk
What follows is a list of random personalities and characters that one can bump into and associate with in and around Irid and Eros. No stat blocks are given, since for the most part they're not meant to be notable NPCs: that's what the fleshed-out NPCs are for. If you need to play the characters, either wing it or use simple, premade stats (appropriately-leveled, of course).
- Ammuntelap: Most of the anubal stick to the sacred grounds hidden in the sandstorm depths of the Red Wastes or dwell in Dharuum. Ammuntelap is an exception: considering the importance of the Mausoleum, it seems only fitting that a master of the mortician's craft watch over the necropolis. Ammuntelap is far younger than the eldest anubal who attend to the burial of kings and priests and watch over their tombs, but he is still older than the Twin Cities. He never leaves the Mausoleum, walking its corridors like an ebony ghost, terrifying the trainee morticians and priests. Mechanically: as an anubal warden.
- Biliaf (and his cats): Small stature is no obstacle for greatness: so says Biliaf (and his cats, were they able to talk). Biliaf is an animal trainer and street artist with dwarfism, which gets people confused in a world with dunners and dwarves. Biliaf is originally from Tull; his performances were wasted on unappreciative dullards there (says he), and he moved to the Twin Cities to find fame and fortune. He performs a show with his beloved cats, collected from the many corners of the world. Most of the cats are terrible, yet adorable, but one of them - Simmons the Smart - is as ugly as sin and a masterful performer. Biliaf has grown her from a kitten to almost as big as he is, and the two are inseparable. Biliaf has a habit of talking to his cats, especially Simmons, and it appears he believes (or otherwise acts very well) that they answer him back. Mechanically: as 3rd-level ranger with a mean cat animal companion.
- Daughter Endymi: The Mothers Three have a keen interest on the Twin Cities, weaving elaborate plots. Some of their daughters, however, are more interested in simple exploitation. This is the case with Daughter Endymi: a bloated giant spider who dwells hidden in a basement some ways south of central Eros. She leads a minor gang, The Daughters, comprised solely of female thugs. They keep the money and goods, while Endymi gets the bodies. Even with her massive size, Endymi is a coward at heart, and fears that those more loyal to the Mothers find out about her independence. Mechanically: as Huge monstrous spider with Intelligence 12.
- Devya bin Ranuan: While Ranuan and Wijdan aren't famous in the Twin Cities, their daughter Devya is. The family lives on Il-Sudic, in a house that'd be far too expensive for them if it weren't for Devya's profession: diving for pearls. Devya is a master of her trade, being able to effortlessly locate oysters in murky Kwazir and hold her breath for over ten minutes. Devya is a sunny child, courteous to a fault and always smiling. The inhabitants of Il-Sudic adore her, and make sure that even when Devya is unable to provide for his poor family, they do not go hungry or homeless. Mechanically: as 1st-level commoner.
- Laceration Jarron: Jarron bin Dorijev, also known as Laceration Jarron and Jarron Cuts, is a goliath enforcer for hire as well as a fallen-from-grace monk of Bin Saer Monastery. He operates in the docks of Eros, and while his line of work is grim, he himself seems a jolly man. He has a habit of spouting quasi-religious aphorisms (which he immediately bends to fit whatever he wants to do), and gets his nickname from his habit of cutting himself to study "the mystery of pain". As a result, his hide is a patchwork of cuts. There's something terrifying in the way he often nonchalantly mutilates himself while talking with people. Mechanically: as 6th-level monk.
- Mutters: A particularly filthy beggar wanders the streets of Eros, occasionally ending up in Irid and the delta isles as well. She seems to be inflicted with every disease known to man, and constantly mutters to herself in a variety of languages; hence the name. Yet despite the ill-fitting gold necklaces and rings she wears, no one touches her. People have tried before, and those people have been found floating in Kwazir - often in several pieces. Mechanically: as an efreeti that makes sure there are no witnesses.
|"Lapidary, not gemcutter. There's a difference."|
- Marsof the Lapidary: Goblins are thought of as the best gemcutters, owing to their nimble fingers and attention to detail. The gemcutters of Al-Auri, a religious city some two hundred miles north of Irid and Eros, is the promised land of gemcutters. Thus Marsof, a goblin bedouin and gemcutter from the city of the sun god is the undisputed master of that trade, as his name attests. Marsof has incredible knowledge on gemcutting and the who's-who of his field, although he tends to be a bit boring: he speaks in a monotone, rarely looks at people and always fiddles with his beloved gemstones. Mechanically: as 8th-level expert.
- Nimmin bin Surimmin: The 13-year-old youngest daughter of the ruling Shah is thoroughly spoiled by her adoring father, which made her turn out exactly as you'd imagine. Nimmin is a wan girl with a whiny voice, although the many sycophants that surround her at all times would describe her as "swanlike" or "delicate", and her voice as "melodious" or "euphonic". She weaves her way through the finer markets of Irid, snatching what she wants. Her eight castrati bodyguard pay for her "purchases", and their terrifying falchions make sure no one complains. Mechanically: as 3rd-level aristocrat; sycophants as 1st-level aristocrat; castrati bodyguard as 4th-level fighter with masterwork falchion.
- Qoram bin Qarathi: Even among the ear-deafening voices of Qamar Spice Market, Qoram's voice is always the loudest. The fat dunner matron peddles her goods like no other: often those who happen upon her stall find themselves leaving with handfuls of spice pouches they didn't intend to buy. Qoram is bombastic, excitable, well-liked and constantly horny. Young men of all races should be wary of her fast fingers, lest they want their bottoms pinched. Mechanically: as 3rd-level commoner.
- Sorom, Who Curses The Sky: Raging against the titans openly is not the smartest move - they're immature and spiteful. Sorom, once a cleric of Morran and a respected scholar, learned this the hard way. When he spoke against the impulsive destruction that Morran represents, the god chose to visit him with an embarrassing intestinal condition during a sermon. He protested that, and the other titans joined the torment. Now Sorom wanders the streets alone, people shunning him out of fear of sharing his tortures. To taunt him, Morran has yet to take away his clerical powers, although he often twists his spells to strike back at the poor prophet. Every time the bells of Bin Saer monastery ring, Sorom screams at the skies with them. Mechanically: as 4th-level cleric with the Destruction domain.